Lavender Braised Chicken

This technique for cooking chicken works with any sort of seasonings you choose. Basically, cook the chicken in the oven skin down in liquid half way up the chicken for 30 minutes, then uncover the pan and turn the chicken the cook uncovered 15 minutes more to brown the skin. Here, wine is flavored with lavender and the chicken is cooked in that with vegetables. Dry toasting the peppercorns mitigates the heat and enhances the floral notes of the pepper.

INGREDIENTS:

1 chicken, cut into serving pieces, or 4 chicken legs cut into thigh and drumstick
Cognac for drizzling on the chicken
1 teaspoon lavender, powdered
3 cups red wine such as Cotes du Rhone, Quinta Cruz Touriga, or Zinfandel
1-2 tablespoons lavender (depends on how pronounced you want the lavender flavor to be)
3 bay leaves, divided
3 tablespoons black peppercorns, dry toasted until quite fragrant, cracked
4 sprigs thyme plus 4 more
2 cloves garlic minced
1 large onion, cut into medium dice
2 large carrots, cut into medium dice or ¼ inch thick coins
Olive oil, as needed
Salt and pepper to taste
2 cups chicken stock, or as needed (water can be used if need be)

METHOD:

Arrange shelf in the center of the oven, and heat the oven to 425°F.

Drizzle the chicken with the cognac, then season with salt and pepper and the powdered lavender. Set aside.

Heat the wine over medium-high heat. Add 1-2 tablespoons lavender, 2 bay leaves, 2 tablespoons or the toasted cracked peppercorns, and 4 sprigs of thyme. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer and cook down to 2 cups. Turn off and set aside.

Select an oven proof pan with a lid that is just large enough to hold all the chicken in a close single layer. Heat the pan over medium-high heat. When hot, film the pan with oil. Add the carrots and sauté until coloring. Add the onions and cook until translucent. Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant. Remove from the heat and add the chicken, being sure it is skin side down. Add the rest of the peppercorns, the remaining thyme, and a bay leaf.

Strain the infused wine through a fine-meshed sieve into the pan with the chicken. Add stock and/or water as needed to reach just past half-way up the chicken.

Return the pan to the heat and bring to a boil. As soon as the liquid boils, cover with a lid or foil and place in the center of the oven. Cook for 30 minutes.

After 30 minutes, remove pan from the oven and remove the lid. Use tongs to gently turn the chicken pieces so the skin side is up. The chicken should be half out of the liquid. If not, use the carrots and onions under the chicken to help lift the pieces up. Return the pan to the oven, uncovered, and roast 15 minutes more or until the chicken skin becomes dark and crisps up a bit.

Remove the chicken to a serving platter with the vegetables, and put the pan over high heat to reduce the liquid in the pan to a sauce like consistency. Pour over the chicken or pass on the side.

YIELD: 4 servings